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Trapped in a Blind Spot: The Covid-19 Crisis in Nursing Homes in Italy and Spain

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 November 2021

Margarita León
Universitat Autònoma Barcelona (Institute of Government and Public Policy - IGOP), Barcelona, Spain Email:
Marco Arlotti
Department of Architecture and Urban Studies, Politecnico di Milano, Italy Email:
David Palomera
Universitat Autònoma Barcelona (Institute of Government and Public Policy - IGOP), Barcelona, Spain Email:
Costanzo Ranci
Department of Architecture and Urban Studies, Politecnico di Milano, Italy Email:


This article investigates the delay in implementation and inadequacy of specific policy actions in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in nursing homes. The analysis focuses on Lombardy and Madrid, the two wealthiest regions in Italy and Spain. These were the most severely affected by the onset of the pandemic, both country-wise and at the European level. We compare the chronology of policy decisions that affected nursing homes against the broader policy responses related to the health crisis. We look at structural factors that reveal policy legacy effects. Our analysis shows that key emergency interventions arrived late, especially when compared to similar actions taken by the national health services. Weak institutional embedding of nursing homes within the welfare state in terms of ownership, allocation of resources, regulation and coordination hindered a swift response to the onset of the crisis.

Themed Section on Social Policy Responses and Institutional Reforms in the Pandemic
© The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press

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